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Real Answers™
jd43
Copyright: ©2009 Jill Darling
655 words

WHEN NEWSPAPERS DIE, A PART OF OUR CULTURE DIES

By: Jill Darling

 

My husband Pete gets up, starts the car, drives to the country store and gets the newspapers. This has been his morning ritual for 35 years, as it was his father’s for 65 years. Pete drinks a mug of coffee while reading headlines and checking baseball scores. He shares breaking stories with me. But filling me in on the latest doesn’t happen much anymore.  I’ve already seen the news on the Internet the night before.  In doing so, I‘ve taken away his delight in being the first to know. That “first” aspect, which accompanied buying the newspaper, is now lost.

But, it’s not my fault. With the advent of websites, news blogs, Twitter and Facebook, news is recorded within seconds and updated every hour. By the time the original newspaper story is printed and delivered, it’s obsolete. Newspaper advertising is decimated by the sluggish economy and free advertising websites like Craigslist and Monster.com.

With newspaper circulation declining within the last fifteen years, editors are focused on printing more local news and tweaking their own websites with regular updates. Newspaper publishers have taken on peripheral projects such as regional and local magazines to generate revenue. Staff reduction is to the point where one person is doing the job of three and those remaining on staff are paid less.

Newspapers are literally downsizing with narrower pages and less content. For example, printing fewer pages Monday through Wednesday, or eliminating those days entirely, and publishing more content Thursday through Sunday, capitalizing on those higher readership days.  Some, like the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, have folded. The chain that owns the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune is in bankruptcy. Every newspaper, large and small, has taken hits.

At least 120 newspapers in the US have shut down since January 2008, according to Paper Cuts, a web site tracking the industry. More than 21,000 jobs at 67 newspapers have been cut since then, according to the site. Some believe that the demise of the newspaper is just a matter of time.

Not everyone agrees. Newspapers are still a vital part of the American fabric, according to John E. Sturm, President and CEO of Newspaper Association of America.

“While 57 million adults watched a major league baseball game on broadcast television last season, nearly 105 million Americans read a newspaper every single day,” Sturm said. The St. Louis Cardinals fan believes that “newspapers are the source for accurate reporting on baseball’s many nuances, offering highly accurate reporting and valuable insight that simply cannot be found on talk radio or the many blogs that cover the sport.”

I view newspapers as I do handwritten notes or letters.  My Space, Facebook and Twitter will never replace the real thing: the time and effort that goes into constructing the note and the handwriting that reveals the mark of the writer. “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook,” according to a biblical Proverb. The ability to hold the note and save it as a keepsake doesn’t exist in quick one or two-line Internet chats that are lost in oblivion.

The ability to buy a newspaper that reflects your community and hold it in your hands is a great American pastime. Newspapers solidify moments in time with their bold headlines and photographs. People save articles and clip coupons. Afterward, papers are used as birdcage liners, puppy-training papers or spread out for painting and other projects. They’re part of our culture.

I still have memories of my grandfather walking along the railroad tracks to the corner store to buy the newspaper and six hard rolls.  He’d saunter back, make a cup of tea, butter his roll and read the newspaper.

I don’t want all our news to be relegated to the Internet and television. I hope the newspaper tradition continues. Besides, what will my husband do without his morning ritual?

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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